Mayor formally opens the Velmore Centre


The Mayor of Eastleigh, Cllr Rupert Kyrle formally opens the Velmore Centre

Velmore residents were delighted to welcome The Mayor of Eastleigh Cllr Rupert Kyrle  to formally open the new Velmore Centre today, an event that they had all been excitedly anticipating.

Although the recently extended and refurbished facilities have actually been in use for the last couple of months, including for the Diamond Jubilee, today was about bringing together everybody who has been involved in the project and carrying out the ceremonial formalities. The guests included the artists, Craig & Mary Matthews, who created the stainless steel Doves that are affixed to the outside of the building.  

Cutting the ribbon at the start of a family fun day, The Mayor of Eastleigh, Cllr Rupert Kyrle said;

“Its an absolutely fantastic place. We’ve been here a couple of times already, so we are quite familiar with the internal set-out.”

“I presume you’ve all been inside, have used it before and will continue to use it. It is indeed your space. That’s the whole point of calling it a Community Centre. It is for you, it is about you, it is the community that makes the centre what it is.”

Whilst thanking everybody who had been involved in the project, First Wessex, Eastleigh Borough Council, Chandlers Ford Parish Council, Lovell [the building contractors] and Craig & Mary Matthews, Cllr Kyrle added;

It is an iconic building, it does catch the eye when you go past. The Doves that you see adorning the side of the building are absolutely fantastic. I didn’t realise actually, until it was pointed out to me, that they are all engraved underneath with designs that are by people in the community itself, so its your work which is there for posterity, for future generations to come along and enjoy this centre and to realise that it has a history for this community.

After the ceremony, Eastleigh News asked Cllr Kyrle about the role of the Mayor, particularly at this sort of function. Cllr Kyrle explained;

As the first citizen of the Borough, having been elected by all the other Councillors to represent the Borough, it is really fitting that somebody is able to come along and represent the Borough Council in that respect and open such a fantastic facility for the community. I’m very very pleased to do it. It really is one of the absolute bread & butter things of being a Mayor, coming along and opening fantastic things like this which are a legacy to the community and will be going for many, many generations to come. I’m very very pleased to be be invited to come along and do it, its an honour, it really is.

Asked if he was enjoying his Mayoral year, Cllr Kyrle then said;

“Absolutely. Its really nice to have not only the Jubilee year but the Olympic year too which kicked off in fantastic style last night. I wish our athletes all the very, very best. And we’ve got the weather back too, which is is fantastic after such a poor start to the year.  The sun is definitely shining on Eastleigh. There are some fantastic things that we are able to do in times that are actually quite difficult and to see things like this [the Velmore Centre] being delivered in the community is what being a Councillor is all about.

The fun then began with the Mayor and Mayoress staying at the centre for more than two hours, visting the stalls, participating in the competitions and enthusiastically chatting to everybody who was there.

The Mayor participates in the guess the weight of the cake competition, making this lady's day a memorable one

At 2pm, the dignitaries, guests and local community gathered in the car park to release six white Doves. The Doves, a Christain symbol of innocence, gentleness and peace [n.b. the Velmore Centre is also used as a Church] were handed one at a time to the dignitaries who had to endure a short period of wriggling and being pecked before the six Doves were released and flew-off impressively in a flock, keen to get back home for a feed…


Getting ready to release the White Doves

Just before leaving, The Mayor spared Eastleigh News another few moments. I enquired how the Mayorship affected his role as a Councillor. The Mayor explained;

The Mayoral role is apolitical, rightly so, but when I am at a local [Town/Parish] Council meeting or at Hampshire County Council and not wearing these chains of office, I am there as a Councillor representing my constituents. Despite being the Mayor, I was still free to express my concern about traffic congestion in Botley and Hedge End in a disucssion about the local plan the other evening.

After the Mayor and Mayoress’s departure, the activities continued at the Velmore Centre, with a family disco planned for later in the evening.

Ray Turner

Formerly a Civil-Servant and IT Specialist at ONS, Ray is now semi-retired and spare-time self-employed. He contributes to Eastleigh News on a voluntary basis and is also an administrator for the site.